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Tehran ready to join Riyadh in fixing regional problems

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Tehran: Iran is ready for talks with Saudi Arabia for the good of the region and to solve problems facing the regional countries, an Iranian foreign ministry official said on Tuesday, according to state TV. “We welcome dialogue and cooperation with Saudi Arabia with a view to restoring peace, security and welfare to the region,” Press TV quoted Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as saying.

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“If Saudi Arabia plays a constructive role, it will definitely benefit” from the implementation of the nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers reached in the Austrian capital of Vienna last month, he said. However, if Saudi Arabia continues its “negative game,” it should anticipate the repercussions which will pose “serious threat to security and sustainable development” in the region, he added.

Earlier this month, Amir-Abdollahian urged normalization of relations between the two Islamic states, saying that Iran and Saudi Arabia had the potential to interact constructively over regional issues. “We believe that the coercive policies of Saudi Arabia to solve regional issues, particularly those of Yemen, are strategic mistakes,” Amir Abdollahian said. “Although we do not agree with these policies of Saudi Arabia, we think bilateral relations should be normalized,” he said. Tehran and Riyadh should start “straightforward, effective and constructive talks to fight terrorism and extremism and to restore security and stability to the region,” Amir-Abdollahian said. Saudi Arabia has long accused Iran of arming and financing Houthi Shiite fighters, an accusation strongly rejected by Tehran.

(IANS)

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Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran Hold Meeting To Counter Trafficking of Opiate

The United States has spent more than $8 billion in the past 17 years to assist Afghanistan in eradication efforts.

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Opium
An Afghan man works on a poppy field in Jalalabad province. VOA

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran have pledged to increase cooperation and information-sharing for effectively combating the trafficking of Afghan opiates.

War-shattered Afghanistan remains the world’s largest producer of opium, though the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime noted in its latest survey the opium cultivation decreased by 20 percent in 2018 due to a severe drought and reduced prices.

The illegal opiates are largely smuggled to international markets through Pakistan and Iran.

Need for more initiatives 

Afghan, Pakistan and Iranian counternarcotics officials concluded their two-day UNODC-facilitated interaction Wednesday in Islamabad, where delegates underscored the need for more efforts against the massive flow of illicit drugs.

Participants at the “Triangular Initiative” meeting called for timely sharing of information and conducting simultaneously interdiction operations along their shared largely porous borders.

oPIUM CULTIVATION
In this April 11, 2016, photo, farmers harvest raw opium at a poppy field in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan. VOA

The forum was established in 2007 with a mission to promote regional cooperation to reduce the poppy cultivation, trafficking, and consumption of drugs in the region and beyond.

Officials acknowledged that despite Afghanistan’s political tensions with Pakistan and Iran anti-drugs cooperation largely continues.

Renewed attitude 

Cesar Guedes, UNODC representative in Pakistan, noted the three countries attended the Islamabad meeting with “a revived attitude and role”, raising prospects for more effective counternarcotics efforts in 2019.

“More needs to be done because the level of [Afghan opium] production has also increased. They need really to coordinate closer in their joint efforts,” he told VOA

Guedes also called for increased international assistance, saying Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran alone cannot curb the menace of drugs.

opium
FILE – Afghan farmers collect raw opium as they work in a poppy field in Khogyani district of Jalalabad east of Kabul, Afghanistan, May 10, 2013. VOA

“This has to be done in the framework of shared responsibility. All the countries, producers, consumers and transit need to join the effort,” he said.

Despite many challenges facing the government, the head of the Afghan delegation said authorities have taken significant steps to eradicate drug trafficking.

US assistance 
Director General for Policy Planing at the Afghan Ministry of Narcotics, Mohammad Osman Frotan, said 89 percent of poppy cultivation this year has taken place in the Afghan provinces most hit by insurgent activities. He said counternarcotics authorities during 2018 have seized more than 433 tons of different types of drugs, and arrested and prosecuted almost 4,000 suspects.

Also Read: Pakistan In U.S. Blacklist For Religious Freedom Violations

The United States has spent more than $8 billion in the past 17 years to assist Afghanistan in eradication efforts. But the effort has failed to stop opium production, which increased to record highs and stood at an estimated 9,000 tons in 2017. Critics blamed insecurity, rampant corruption and patronage by influential Afghans for the unprecedented growth. (VOA)